Day 67 – Q 4. With many constituencies complaining about faulty voting machines, what steps can be taken by the Election Commission to reinstate the faith of voters on the elections process?
4. With many constituencies complaining about faulty voting machines, what steps can be taken by the Election Commission to reinstate the faith of voters on the elections process?
Recently numerous allegations have been cropping under various constituencies regarding the reliability of Electronic voting machines. It has been alleged that voting machines have been tampered to favour a particular party.
The Electronic Voting Machine process, despite the plethora of grievances about its functioning from the Opposition parties, is a major improvement over paper-based voting.
There has been no evidence of EVM-tampering as claimed by some parties, and administrative and technical safeguards instituted by the ECI and EVM manufacturers have held steady since the introduction of the EVM.
Also, the ECI had fast-tracked the implementation of the VVPAT, an adjunct to the EVM that allows for a paper trail for voting and later verification of the electronically registered mandate in the ballot unit of the EVM.
Election Commission of India had decided in 2018 to roll-out VVPAT in 100% of the polling stations for the 2019 Lok Sabha elections, a first.
What more needs to be done?
Cross verification of EVM-VVPAT
- The fraction of polling stations chosen for such random cross-verification has been inexplicably minuscule (less than 1% of polling stations in each constituency).
- A plea in Supreme Court requested for at least 30% of EVM-VVPAT verification.
- The Opposition political parties also demanded for a count of 50% of the VVPAT slips.
- ECI safeguards are robust enough to prevent this, but VVPAT recounts could eliminate any remaining doubt about possible “insider fraud” by errant officials or manufacturers.
- The other issue with the VVPAT is more significant: machine glitches. During the parliamentary by-elections in Uttar Pradesh and Bihar, and Assembly elections in Karnataka in 2018, VVPAT glitches resulted in machine replacement rates rising to 20% and 4%, respectively.
- Glitches in the VVPAT machines were largely due to spooling issues in the print unit, which was sensitive to extreme weather.
- Considering the seasonal (weather) diversity of India, some hardware-related changes and all weather machines should be introduced.
Education, Information and Communication (EIC)
- In Delhi, a “democracy on wheels” vehicle has been flagged off recently. It has an EVM and VVPAT machine and will visit all polling locations in Delhi.
- Election officials will showcase the machines at static locations across Delhi so voters can familiarise themselves with the process of using a VVPAT.
- On similar line, proposed “VVIP” or voter verification information programme should be launched by the Election Commission all over the country soon.
- Election commission of India should call for all party meet and demonstrate EVM-VVPAT functioning.
- Not only machines but faith of citizen must be restored in complete election process and in democracy as a whole. For example, recent app launch of cVigil app enables citizen to be eyes and ears of ECI in ensuring fair elections.
- Launch of dedicated websites and toll free numbers, enable citizens to verify their names in electoral role, and facilitate to enroll missing voters.
- Such other steps can help voters to strengthen their faith in election process.
Being one of the largest democracy, it is inevitable to use technology in election process. Though ECI ensured safety of EVMs, but to deepen the trust in system, all stakeholders must be brought under confidence.
Best Answer: Sonia Hussain